The end of December 2006
In Nottingham, England, I packed up the possessions in my house into boxes and bags, giving away or selling things that I would not be able to take with me. I was abandoning my university studies after a year and a half, and altogether too much of my own hard earned money. I had not managed to find someone else to rent my attic room so that I could break the contract, the person I had lined up let me down at the last minute. I left anyway, leaving behind posters on the walls and furniture scattered around the room, perhaps the free furniture could be an apology to the people who I shared the house with. They would have to find someone new to take my room.
My parents picked me up and took me and the remainder of my belongings, mostly books and clothes, back to their house where I spent my last Christmas with my family. I packed up my single suitcase with clothes and important small keepsakes. I had to leave behind my books because they were too many.
My parents drove down to London where we stayed overnight in a hotel to be ready for my early flight the next day. The line in the airport was ridiculously long and it seemed like we were waiting forever. My parents left and I went through security, everything went fine and I got on a plane headed to Ireland where I was to change planes and head to Chicago. Ireland was where the trouble started.
For some reason, U.S. immigration was in Ireland instead of the U.S. In hindsight I'm thankful for that because of what followed. I get a grumpy man at the immigration desk, I didn't have the correct visa. I was sent to one of the scary little rooms to be interrogated, there was an Irish American family in front of me, the wife having problems with re entering the U.S. on her Green Card. "This always happens," she gave me an exasperated smile.
The immigration officials decided that I was trying to enter the U.S. with the intention to work illegally. I explained that I could easily get paid more by just staying in England, he wasn't particularly impressed (my mouth gets me in trouble sometimes). My luggage was taken off the plane and I was led out of a secret door back to the main airport, along with a very scared looking asian family. There I was left, the immigration official told me that I was very lucky that he wasn't going to file the paperwork to have me barred from entering the U.S. for 3 years. That I could try again tomorrow.
I was stranded in Ireland with no Euros and a cellphone that was about to run out of battery. I went outside and tried to hold back tears while I lit a cigarette. I called my (future) husband and he answered sleepily. I tried to explain what was going on. I called my parents and tried to decide what to do.
I had no money or transport to get a hotel room for the night and then pay for another ticket to the U.S. the next day. Trying to figure out my options, I wandered around the airport talking to different employees. "Hey, you're the girl who didn't make it to Chicago?!" I became known among the airport staff for that day at least. Even the man who helped me with my bags knew who I was. What a 15 minutes of fame.
After much deliberation, I exchanged my ticket for one going back to London. I called my parents who came to meet me when I arrived, my dad having paid for a second ticket for the following day.
The flight the next day went as planned. I arrived at immigration in Minneapolis, I was so nervous the immigration official must have seen it. He seemed suspicious of me, but luckily my failed attempt from the previous day hadn't been recorded in my passport information. He let me through and I just about kissed him and cartwheeled with joy through the airport. I managed to refrain myself lest he change his mind.
I called my future husband from the airport in Minneapolis to tell him the good news before boarding the plane to Chicago. The rest is history, my husband met me at the baggage claim in O'Hare with one of his friends. We drove out to his cousins place and hung out. We got a hotel that night, went to a New Years party at an apartment belonging to one of his old band mates on the next night and were married three days later (which is another story in itself).
It's been three years, so much has changed and so little.